Managing Your First Virtual Contractor

Using online services to outsource tasks for your online business can exponentially increase productivity and profit, while making time for yourself for entrepreneurial tasks such as creative planning. To make the transition from managing employee to independent contractor as smooth as possible, however, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind at each stage of the process.

Inviting Proposals

Clear communication at all stages of the process is critical, so begin with a well-written job posting. It should include a description of the tasks to be completed, required qualifications, expected turnaround times, payment terms, and preferred methods of communication.

Read through your posting a few times, adding any additional details that come to mind. A well-written job posting will attract the right candidates while tactfully filtering out those with a lack of qualifications.

Use a Contract

Contracts are especially important for online business owners, since distance makes it impossible to manage staff the same way you would in a traditional environment. Check with the freelancer website first – often they will provide contract samples for your use. You can also find sample independent contractor agreements on the Internet. In your contract, be sure to specify security requirements for off-site data.

When it comes to working with independent contractors, remember that the relationship differs from that of employer and employee, and take care to respect these guidelines. The contractor is expected to provide their own equipment, which benefits the employer. In return, the contractor has the freedom to set his or her own hours and decide to a large extent how the work is to be completed.

Making the Hire

When you have accepted a proposal, request the contractor to confirm their understanding of the job description. It’s best to do this over the phone or with video conferencing technology. It’s a good idea to request references. Also, it doesn’t hurt to perform a search on Google to verify that your contractor is who he or she claims to be – for instance, a lawyer in New York.

Find out from your contractor what hours of the day you can expect to get in touch in case you need to update him or her about the project.

Start by assigning a couple of smaller tasks to decide whether or not the contractor is a good fit for the job. When setting deadlines, remember that the contractor will often have other projects on the go. Don’t set unreasonable turnaround times, or you may end up with a poor quality finished product.

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